ALAMOSA – A prime participant in numerous high-pressure situations during his multi-sport Bayfield career, Keyon Prior found himself again playing that role in his final prep-level event this last Saturday at Adams State University.
Fouled with 47.4 seconds left in the 2019 Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State Games boys basketball championship and his White Team trailing Blue by one, Prior knocked down one of his two double-bonus free throws to knot the score at 63-63 inside an awakened Plachy Hall at last sounding like a NCAA Division II venue.
“I’ve been in those clutch moments before, and I just went up there like any other free throw,” said the Wolverine guard. “I didn’t get both to go down like they should have, but one was good, and I was just excited… to contribute.”
Ten seconds later, after the Blues failed to respond at the other end, White’s Koby Anderson was fouled and Ault-based Highland’s star sank both freebies for a two-point lead. But with 14.9 seconds left on the clock, the 5-foot-10 Prior was whistled for a foul on Kersey Platte Valley’s 6-9 Bryson Becker, and the Bronco big swished the resulting pair to retie the score at 65.
With the contest’s energy somewhat mirroring the previous night’s slow-cooked football feature – the South Team, with Bayfield’s Daniel Westbrook seeing much less time than one would have expected on both the offensive and defensive lines, used an intensified fourth quarter to turn a low-scoring game into a 31-17 win over North. But the hoops highlights kept coming.
Prior had commented while attending the gridiron game at ASU’s Rex Field that “there were some savage guards” on the hardwood, and one of the most skilled came through when White needed him most. Spinning through the lane with time running out, Greeley West’s 5-8 Andre Sepeda converted an incredible layup with 7.2 seconds remaining, and Anderson then alertly intercepted near midcourt Blue’s ensuing inbounds heave, securing a 67-65 victory. Because of a scorebook error in the second quarter, the scoreboard showed 66-65.
The Chadron State College-bound Sepeda booked a game-high 28 points for the winners, while Highlands Ranch Rock Canyon’s Jaylen Eikenberg netted 14 and Anderson totaled eight. Having scored three points in the previous day’s 70-63 semifinal win over Red inside nearby Ortega Middle School, Prior chipped in four during his final San Luis Valley showing. Class 3A Intermountain League rival Chad Jackson of Alamosa posted 12 points for Blue in the championship defeat, while Becker and Fort Collins Poudre’s Damian Forrest each scored a team-best 13.
“I just really enjoyed getting to know them and getting to play basketball with them, kids that enjoy basketball just as much as me,” said Prior. “Amazing athletes, kids that just love the game, take pride in it and respect it as it should be.”
Asked what’s next, Prior did mention he’d received some interest from Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference basketball programs but detailed a dream to continue playing football at a higher level.
“(Colorado State University-Pueblo) was in contact a lot, and I thought I was going to get a little scholarship to go there, but then they told me ‘preferential walk-on.’ I was really confused; I thought I was going to go play basketball,” Prior said. “And after Delta (Bayfield’s 67-63 road loss March 1 in the 3A state tournament’s opening Round-of-32) I just lost my confidence, and then I was figuring I’m just going to go to school.
“I don’t want to lose sports. I want to go to CSU in Fort Collins, and walk on, try to play slot receiver.”
There’ll be no shortage of high-pressure situations there.